When a Gem Isn’t Actually Pristine

Earlier today, Blowout Buzz posted an article about a 1968 Topps Nolan Ryan / Jerry Koosman on eBay. However, this wasn’t any ol’ 1968 Topps rookie card that someone found at a yard sale and posted for sale. This one was listed at over $1 million and has been given the grade of 98 (on a 1-100 scale) by SGC. In other words, they graded it as gem mint and as a comparison, an SGC 98 would crossover to BGS as a 9.5 and to PSA as a 10.

This is indeed a rare card!

Based on what you can see in the picture above, the front of the card does indeed look like a card that could grade very high. The centering looks even. The corners seem sharp. It’s a very attractive card.

The issue I have is with the back of the card. It is clearly not a centered card. Being that it’s centered 30/70 at best on the back, why would SGC grade this card as a 98 gem mint? It’s anyone’s guess why it earned the grade it did but there has always been a rumor surrounding the grading of vintage cards by companies such as SGC, BGS (or BVG), and PSA. That rumor is that the fronts of vintage cards weigh more heavily in the overall grade especially if the front has substantial eye-catching appeal.

As is the case with the card pictured, the front is fantastic and while the back is somewhat off-centered, it supposedly doesn’t detract enough from the overall appeal of the card to lower the grade.

In my opinion, I’ve always hated when grading companies do this. A card graded as gem mint or pristine should be exactly that. It shouldn’t look “pretty good” and given a higher grade than it deserves because the card is desirable and eye-catching, especially if someone is going to list it at $1.2 million! Each grade should be treated equally and the back should count towards the grade as much as the front does.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments section or tag me @jasondeanmartin on Twitter.


This TTM Is Mo-Mentous

My recent return is a legend of sorts from the 90s and early 2000s that played the majority of his professional baseball career in the northeast. He’s known for his size and the huge wad he would keep in his mouth while playing. And believe it or not, he was the highest paid player in the game at one point.

Who could it be?

Continue reading

Jose Reyes: From Superstar to Suspended

Jose Reyes is on the brink of being suspended by Major League Baseball (MLB) for at least 60 games after being arrested last October for assaulting his wife. Even though no charges were filed since his wife did not cooperate with the police, MLB is taking this matter very seriously, hence the suspension. 

It’s hard to believe that Reyes was once a superstar for the New York Mets alongside David Wright and thought to be on his way to a stellar career. He was even the National League Batting Champion back in 2011. 

All that leads me to the point of this writing. 

I recently purchased the card pictured. It’s a 2001 Topps Chrome rookie card of Reyes that has been graded a Gem Mint 10 by PSA. 

Ten years ago, I probably would have had to shell out $6-10 for a raw copy and almost $100 for a PSA 10. But, thanks to his fall from grace, I was able to purchase this card for a whopping $2 plus $3 for shipping. 

I doubt he’ll ever return to the prime playing days he enjoyed as a Met, but this was a card I couldn’t pass up as a lifelong Mets fan and as someone that always had this card on their bucket list, albeit it was more of a priority when he was in the orange and blue. 

Happy Collecting!